Federal officials discussed raising alert level to highest level during Idle No More, book says
Indigenous Affairs played central information sharing role with security services, according to new report
Senior federal officials discussed raising the country's alert level to the highest tier at the height of the Idle No More movement, which also shaped how Canada's security agencies handle Indigenous-led protests, according to a new book.
CBC News obtained an advance copy of the book, Policing Indigenous Movements, which charts how police, military and intelligence agencies handled such protest movements through "fusion policing models."
The book is largely based on documents obtained under the Access to Information and Privacy Act. It is scheduled to be published in May.
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The book was written by Andrew Crosby, a co-ordinator with Carleton University's Ontario Public Interest Research Group, and Jeffrey Monaghan, an assistant professor at Carleton University's Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
The researchers focused on how authorities handled opposition to Enbridge's failed Northern Gateway project, conflicts between Ottawa and the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake in Quebec, the Idle No More movement and the Elsipogtog First Nation-led anti-shale gas battle in New Brunswick.
The researchers said the documentation shows the federal department of Indigenous Affairs — which has since been replaced by two new agencies — played a central information-sharing role with security agencies.
The department holds a wide breadth of information on communities and individuals, including family information of those with Indian status.
Indigenous Services is now responsible for monitoring protests through regional offices.
The department said in a statement it does "not share private information" and "abides by the Privacy Act."
The book also highlights how security agencies involve corporations whenever Indigenous-led protests threaten economic interests.
Evolution of police tactics
The researchers said it's clear Idle No More, a national Indigenous movement that arced between late November 2012 and January 2013, shook the security establishment and influenced their future approaches to Indigenous-led dissent.
"We see the security state commenting on Idle No More and the effectiveness and this new way of organizing. 'How do we deal with it? How do we get ahead of it? How do we respond to this leaderless movement that used social media in the way that other movements had?'" said Crosby.
"They were dealing with something different and evolving and they were evolving their tactics."
One of the book's most striking findings comes from handwritten notes by a Canadian Security Intelligence Service official from a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting held when Idle No More was at its apex.
Moving to Tier III from Tier II
The notes, written under Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre letterhead, reveal that Ron Hallman, then a senior assistant deputy minister with Indigenous Affairs, discussed raising the Government Operations Centre's (GOC) emergency response level to its highest category.
The GOC is the information nerve centre for national-scale emergency response.
"Ron Hallman," reads the handwritten notes. "GOC//Native — moving from Tier II → Tier III."
CBC News provided the notes to Public Safety Canada seeking comment. Public Safety said in a statement that the emergency response level was never moved to the second or third level during Idle No More.
RCMP anticipated anti-shale gas protests
"In the case of Idle No More specifically, the … GOC did maintain awareness of the protests in order to report (ie: Level 1) on any possible impacts on federal infrastructure, such as railway blockages," said the statement.
The book also reveals that as Idle No More passed its peak in January 2013, the RCMP began preparing for anticipated protests in New Brunswick against planned shale gas exploration.
By the end of 2013, the RCMP had arrested nearly 100 people in relation to protests, including 40 in one day on Oct. 17, 2013, after a raid on a camp blocking SWN Resources Canada exploration vehicles.
According to documents obtained by Crosby and Monaghan, the RCMP began holding meetings in January with the New Brunswick government, SWN, and the J.D. Irving-owned security firm Industrial Security Ltd. (ISL).
The RCMP co-ordinated "an integrated approach" to dealing with the expected protests that led to the creation of the Shale Gas Intel Group, according to the book.
Monaghan said authorities were concerned the Elispogtog-led anti-shale gas resistance could spread across the country.
"They were so petrified about another form of cross-country mobilization and solidarity that they were trying to get ahead of that possibility," said Monaghan. "What it really has do with is economics: they do not want threats to the various extractive industries."
Crosby and Monaghan said that the documents showed that time and again Indigenous Affairs played a central information-sharing role with security agencies.
The researchers said this raises additional concerns, because interdepartmental information sharing is now more fluid as a result of the anti-terror Bill C-51 passed by the Stephen Harper administration.
"Our work shows that [Indigenous Affairs] has really become embedded and integrated into the fusion centre policing model and [the department] has so much information on Native life, on individuals," said Monaghan.
"It creates a huge opening in terms of what type of information can travel through these policing networks."